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I always worry when I see that the author is narrating their work, because you know, story TELLING is usually distinct from STORY telling. But listening to Seanan McGuire, I actually had thoughts of olden days, when Bards were very highly valued and powerful people in society who were more like wizards than the modern image of a short-sighted writer in a fuzzy cardigan and glasses hunched over a typewriter with a cat nearby. M's. McGuire wrapped her voice, her bones-deep knowledge of the story and every word, every turn of phrase, around every utterance. She brings the compassion of the storyteller who knows and lives the people in the story, but also the dark foreknowledge that in old-school fairy tales, the heros (heroines) don't get to live "happily ever after."
I had already listened to and absolutely loved "Every Heart a Doorway" and was deeply impressed by that book's rich flavors and textures - but there wasn't enough about Jack and Jill. Together, the two short novels are far more than either could ever be alone, though the are also undeniably separate and different - like weighty though slim bookends.
Anyone worried about whether they will like a "kid's book" should think again. The old Grimm fairy tales were nobody's Goodnight Moon, and children who went astray suffered serious, often fatal, consequences. Seanan McGuire's pair of books are imho instant classics steeped in history, dangers (of modern parenting especially!), finding your place and coming of age, and real love of others, even when they don't necessarily deserve it. And regret that things happened as they did, and maybe - probably? - had to happen that way. Or did they?
Highest recommendation for this book, especially as the prequel to Every Heart a Doorway. Worth 2 credits despite the short length that always makes me wonder if a book is long enough to be "worth it." Yes. This one is a treasured keeper!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Readers of McGuire's Every Heart a Doorway will recognize Jack and Jill, the identical twins Jacqueline and Jillian, who are a major part of the conclusion of the book.
In this standalone book we get to see how Jack and Jill became the people they were by the time they entered Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, the home where children who found doorways to alternate universes are helped to recover.
Born to a couple more interested in the social benefits of parenthood than actually being parents, Jack and Jill begin to take on their unique gender identities at an early age. One day, wanting to play costume make believe, they go up to the attic and find that the costume trunk is empty except for a door leading to a deep stairway. Down those stairs is a world ruled by the Master where vampires are the ruling citizens. Jack and Jill take on unique roles in this world. But before they turn 18 they must make a decision whether or not to become permanent residents.
McGuire invented dozens of unusual worlds in her last book. In this story she creates a dark and frightening world. As in the past, she doesn't shrink from the death of characters whether you like them or not, nor from Jack's sexual ambiguity. What is also as strong here as in the first book is the devotion Jack has for Jill.
This is a perfect follow up to Every Heart a Doorway, a book that started like a pleasant children's book and ended up gothic, macabre, and murderous. It will be interesting to see what other twists and turns will come in future books. While it would be a good read for most older teens it's a book that would be enjoyable for any adult lover of gothic fantasy.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
The narrator does a great job narrating her own book. The story is whimsical and beautiful. It takes a well needed breath of fresh air to the genre, and kept me captivated the whole way through. My only fault, would be I wanted more, maybe even an epilogue. I eagerly anticipate the next in the series.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This wasn’t a story I thought I would enjoy or a series I thought I would continue but I was proved wrong. I think the best thing about this book for me was how Seanan narrated it. I was intrigued and wanted more!